Lawmakers from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party turned their backs on the European anthem on Tuesday at the opening of the E.U. Parliament -- and promising more to come if the United Kingdom doesn’t leave the bloc in October.
The Pro-Brexit lawmakers acted in unison in the parliament chamber as “Ode to Joy” was played by a jazz band as part of the chamber’s opening ceremonies.
“I'll show respect for the anthem of any other country in the world, but not for a forced creation like this and I think we did the right thing,” Farage told Sky News after the protest.
The E.U. says the anthem "expresses the European ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity."
The recently-formed Brexit Party shot to success in the U.K.’s European Parliament elections in May, coming first and sending 29 MEPs to the chamber, pledging to push forward the cause of delivering the 2016 referendum in which Brits voted to leave the E.U.
Farage took issue with remarks by President Antonio Tajani, who had warned lawmakers ahead of the anthem that: “If you listen to the anthem of another country you rise to your feet.”
“What is disrespectful is to take the ancient nation states of Europe and without asking anybody’s permission, turn it into a country because that’s what the president of the parliament called it this morning,” Farage said.
The Brexiteers weren’t the only Brits to take part in a stunt at the ceremony. The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats appeared with yellow shirts that said “Stop Brexit” and “Bollocks to Brexit.”
Britain’s negotiations with the E.U. about its departure, scheduled for October 31, are on standstill while the ruling Conservative Party selects a new leader in the wake of Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to step down under pressure over her Brexit handling.
The favorite to succeed her, Boris Johnson, has promised to leave the bloc in October, even if it meant leaving without a formal withdrawal agreement with the E.U.
Farage promised Tuesday, according to the Times of London, that "if we have to stay longer than that they'll know we're here."